Thursday, August 31, 2006

Buckwheat Pillow

Mary made her very own zafu for doing yoga at home. I must admit, it's very well made - it looks just like something you'd get from any of the yoga supply shops. It's a round pillow, stuffed with buckwheat hulls. And why buy something for $49 when you can buy the materials for about $5 and sew it yourself.

I'd been wanting to try a buckwheat pillow for a while, but never wanted to actually buy one. They seem like they might be loud - the hulls rub together every time the pillow shifts, sounding kind of like a rain stick. Plus, I'm a cheapskate.

Well, I finally put two and two together and started using Mary's zafu. With a regular pillow (even the extra firm ones), I usually couldn't sleep on my side for very long, and often ended up on my back (which exacerbates my snoring). With the zafu, I stay on my side all night. I flip sides once or twice to help my arms which tend to fall asleep after a few hours of me lying on one shoulder.

All hail the zafu.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Seriously, what is the deal with these:
Glade® PlugIns® - Scented Oil Light Show

How about we combine a hedge trimmer and a butter dish? Or perhaps a measuring spoon and a voltage meter?

Who comes up with these ideas? And, more to the point, who buys this stuff?

Stole the show

Last weekend we went to Art and Air Festival in Albany. The hot air balloons had already sailed, but all the art booths and music were in full swing. Some of the stuff was pretty neat, but nothing we couldn't live without.

We were chatting with one of the vendors, and she said that sales were way down, only 10% of normal (and she'd been there all 7 years it was running). We did notice how few people were there, considering the beautiful weather.

Simone decided she'd sleep through the entire event. I walked around with her asleep on my arm (like a lioness sleeping in a tree) for two hours. Everywhere we went people told us how cute she was and how we needed to take a picture. Of course we didn't have a camera.

There was an HP booth and the lady there took a picture and printed it for us (showing us the snazy new printer and camera - which took a fuzzy picture). I then remembered that we had cameras in our phones.

Here's the cutie:

A whole body shot for perspective:And here's the picture I took one handed (my favorite):

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Is Our President Learning?

Someone takes a closer look at the recent "leaks" that Bush wants it known that he's an avid reader: American Prospect Online - Is Our President Learning?

Sounds like yet more mis-information being spread by our president.


From: Opinions: Tom Toles Cartoons - (

Monday, August 28, 2006

Math makes spywork easier...

Interesting short article about how simple formulas were used to replace faulty human intelligence: Gavyn Davies does the maths

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Moving the old-age bar...

I got a haircut today (first one in a year actually, but that's another story).

First of all, I feel out of place because everyone is talking about the little league world series - it was on the TV. I understand that the Beavers did win the college baseball championship, but still, why would any of us care about little kids playing baseball? Sure, they're the best in the world for their age-group, but come on, we don't watch world-champion basketball for 12-year olds, or football.

So, these old-timers are talking about that and watching it on TV. The show/game ended, and on came the X-games bmx vertical event (which I was interested in). They immediately turned the TV off. eh?

So, I'm feeling out of touch already.

The guy next to me is getting his hair cut (surprise, surprise), and the barber asks him, "do you want me to trim the eyebrows?"

That's the new bar for being old , when the barber asks if my eyebrows need trimming.

Of course, I guess it'd be worse if they just trimmed them without asking.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Slime Molds

I'd read about slime molds before, and the first part of this article gives a good description of how they sometimes behave like individual amoebea, but in times of scarcity, they group together and behave as a more complex ogranism that generates "spoors". Neat stuff.

The article goes on further to discuss details about the complexities in these complex organisms which you may or may not find interesting (I did), but the first part is definitely worth reading.

Us and Them Among the Slime Molds

Friday, August 18, 2006

Which do you like better?

Interesting site - asks you to choose between photos.
After choosing some, you click on the brain and it tells
you something about yourself.

So far it's gotten 7/8 statements correct.

photos you likebetter: you are what you like

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The environmental costs of green energy: Biofuels | The Green Geek

The Green Geek has a good article on The environmental costs of green energy: Biofuels. I thought the most telling portion was the following:
It’s known that photosynthesis has an efficiency of around 16 percent. Even if the entire mass of the plant was converted to usable energy, this is already less efficient than using the sunlight directly via photovoltaic panels or concentrated solar power systems, and that’s not even factoring in energy losses during processing and distribution, or thermal and mechanical losses in a vehicle.
In part, this shows how amazing the energy concentration is in our fossil fuels, and how we really need to think of something more than replacing our oil/coal consumption with a "green" substitute.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Treadmill Bike

Maybe I'll ask for one for my birthday: Treadmill Bike

Monday, August 14, 2006


I've only seen the preview for the movie Crank, and it looks good. In fact, I think the plot is about as good and simple as you can get in a movie. It is analogous to the TV show "Hot or Not."

In "Hot or Not" people walked on the stage and were labelled either "hot" or "not." Simple. You knew what you were getting just from the title of the show. Production costs (in TV that's big) were minimal. And viewers knew they could watch without any pretense of having to "enjoy the writing."

In Crank, the main character is poisoned, and if he lets his adrenaline flow drop, he will die. So, he gets to pack as much action/explosions/fighting into a 90 minute movie as possible. And you know that going in. The writing doesn't matter, you're going for pure action. I'd bet that any character development you notice in the will detract from your experience.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cucumbers ripen?

I harvested a cucumber out of our garden. It looked nice and big and pretty.

Tonight I cut it open to mix with some of dill from our herb garden to make the cucumber salad mom used to make for us. Turns out, the cucumber wasn't quite ripe. The seed core is a bit small, and the flesh of the cucumber is a bit woody and bitter. Plus, the dill doesn't seem to be quite the right flavor either (perhaps it is too young as well - though the seeds are very tasty).

It'll be an interesting salad. Perhaps it'll just flavor the compost pile.

Hot Sauce

Last summer our garden had a Thai pepper plant. It was real cute, and had a bunch of little peppers. The peppers were way too hot to eat (we're not heat freaks). I used probably two of them in dishes, and that was plenty.

Toward the end of summer, the peppers all ripened and looked as though they were going to go spicy heaven, so I harvested them (15 or so) and tried to think of what to do. What do you do with peppers too spicy for normal eating?

I could have tried to dry them, but I was afraid of them just rotting - and the colors probably wouldn't stay. Plus, I already had a bunch of red pepper flakes.

So I chopped them up and put them in a small jar with vinegar - hot sauce. I put the jar in the fridge and promptly forgot about it. Some months later I checked the jar and it looked like the real thing. The vinegar was a nice bright red, and the rings of peppers floated in that beautiful liquid. It even tastes pretty good - kind of like a cross between Cholula and Tabasco.

I'm waiting for some hot peppers to show up at the farmers market (dunno if ours will show up, we've not given much love to the garden). I think it'll be fun to make one or two hot sauces. I'll probably blend one of them, and try roasting some of the peppers in one. I'll probably also add a little salt and sugar, and maybe some tomato, to give the sauces a little depth.

My first sauce aged rather well, and I'm almost done with it (I did add some more vinegar to stretch the batch a little further).

The Fastest Way To Make Simone Cry

No, I'm not hurting her - how sick are you for thinking that?

When I have one of my super-sneezes (which is most all of them), I get the whole body into it and approach fetal position at the apex of the sneeze.

Evidentally, this sound cuts straight to the core of Simone and she immediately begins crying at level 8 (of 10 - 10 is when she loses her voice, luckily that's been rare).

So sad, the U.S.ranks at the wrong end of so many measures of a civilized nation

Academics Poor US Test Results
Understanding of evolution Well, at least we beat Turkey
Infant mortality rate: (US is 40th (Cesarean rates are 2-3X that of other developed countries)
Capital punishment: US is 3rd behind China and Iran
Child poverty rates: U.S. leads industrialized nations with appallingly high rates

and the U.S.'s human rights are going down the drain with our "enemy combatants" as well as our civil rights (domestic spying, wiretapping)

The United States, a country with such good ideals, gone so wrong.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Airplane Scare

Bruce Schneier points out the obvious futility of the current airport security: Prison Shivs

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Thank you to everyone who has given us a blanket, it's beautiful, Simone loves it.

However, we do not need any more baby blankets. We have over a dozen already, and 3 more hand-crafted ones are coming our way. She simply cannot use that many at one time.

I'm not even talking about the little blankets you wrap her in to sleep or just keep warm - we've got 7 or 8 of those. Those get used every day for hours on end, and get puked on and soak up sweat (or, gasp.... occasionally some pee).

So, please, no more blankets. We just can't cycle through them fast enough, and have run out of shelf space for them.

(we did consider making a mega-quilt (meta-quilt?), but decided it'd be a little awkward to use)


Because I know you care about your cats.

Cat litter was always gross to me growing up. But, now that I no longer have parents who will clean up litter for me, I've got to take care of it myself.

We do have two cats, and since we want the best for them, we've tried out a number of different cat litters.

There's the traditional clay litter that doesn't clump. While inexpensive, it's awful wasteful because you have to toss out a bunch every couple of days. That never appealed to either of us.

Then there's the clumping clay litter. Evidentially, there was some controversy over the "dangers" of clumping clay, which appear to have stemmed from one woman's experience. But nobody else seems to have had cats die (or even have problems) because they were eating the litter. Our cats have never eaten litter - dogs may be that dumb, but cats? Anyway, the dust from clay may be an issue, or it may not - but in general, the clumping clay litters have odd chemicals added to them, and we'd rather not have that. Oh, and there's the possibility of the clay gumming up your sewer line - not what I'd want to have to get fixed.

We tried the wheat-based clumping cat litter. This stuff certainly clumps, and it clumps hard. If you have it deep enough (3" or so), the urine builds little solid cylinders of clumped litter. If it isn't deep enough, then the urine spreads out and cements itself to the bottom of your litter box (not fun at all). I found the clumps to be way too hard - they took 10-15 minutes to dissolve in water. So, while they wouldn't make any permanent clogs in the sewer, you couldn't always immediately flush down the clumps.

We tried the paper-based litter, which doesn't clump. This litter is different than the rest in that it's composed of a pea-sized balls of recycled paper. The urine soaks into the paper balls, and you have to scoop out the wet balls. The feces seemed to just sit there - dried out. While it was a little bit of a pain to scoop out the wet balls (if you accidentally stirred the litter - the wet balls would be everywhere), the litter behaved well enough. It flushed down super easy, never clogging the toilet (and ours has clogged when I've just peed in it). The biggest drawback was that it tracked. I have no idea how the cats tracked pea-sized balls around the house, but there were some, and they were very painful to step on.

The last type of litter we tried was the corn-based, modestly named World's Best Cat Litter. I have no idea if it is truly the world's best, but it clumps nicely and seems to control the odor well. Like the other non-clay litters, it is flushable and biodegradable. Like the others, it has very little dust, and is even safe to eat (not recommended).

They all have slight smells - not bad, just different. And they all worked. The corn just seems to have the best of all the options, with the fewest drawbacks. And now that we're letting the cats outside, we don't go through it so fast. It is not cheap.

What we really need is a self-cleaning litter box. Perhaps Simone will get one for her first birthday....


Well, Mary and I bought the last essential item for any new parents.

No, not the stroller (don't have one yet - we're hippies and like our slings, thank you very much).

No, not the binky - we're still debating about that, and anyway, you've got to wait for a few months so as not to cause nipple confusion.

No, not Simone's very own TV.

We got a video camera.

Turns out, there are too many varieties from which to choose, and we were pretty overwhelmed by the on-line information. So we just went out and bought one. It's gotten reasonable reviews, though people didn't like the video quality (looks great to me). What's nice about it: size (tiny), saves data to a hard drive (30Gb -> 7.5 hours of widescreen DVD quality video), and is so ridiculously easy to use.

The next step is editing the video - which means we'll probably get a Mac. I'm thinking the mini. It's just so cute and simple - that's all we need. And Mac is supposed to be the bomb for editing video and the such. Unfortunately, our cam corder records to mpeg2 format, which isn't editable by iMovie (Mac's movie editor). So, we'll have to convert. But, I don't think the video recorders that record to mini-dvds (one of the other options) do any different - I've got to check it out.

So, we're beginning our initial videos. Of course, she doesn't do a whole lot right now, so it'll be a while before we actually create our first DVD.

And we have to give big thanks to both sets of grandparents - this video recorder was a very nice gift from all of them.

Just don't go looking for us on AFV. I'm not going to be one of those guys who gets hit in the balls by their kid on video.

Yet more proof that AOL users are clueless

I took a quick break to say, "hi" to Simone today. The TV was on (Mary watched Oprah - but she wasn't in the room) - and I switched to find "Who wants to be a millionaire?" on. Some clueless guy (who didn't know that "Van Gogh" was the last name to a famous painter named "Vincent" when given 4 last names) was asking the audience for help on the question:

"What generally characterizes the condition babies often have called 'colic'?"

A. coughing B. farting C. exploding D. crying

Ok, so I made B and C up, I don't remember what they were, but they were just odd. Ignore the fact that the guy didn't know the answer was D (I knew that way before I even thought of having kids). He asks the audience and 91% say 'D'. yay. Then the hostess switches over to the AOL response (same thing as asking the audience, but AOL folks answer) and it was split, 38% A and 38% D (the rest to B/C).

Maybe only 8 people were responding from the AOL site, or ... I dunno.

Guess I don't want AOL people voting either.

A good reason for the US to not be like Australia

My brother-in-law is in town (from Australia) for a couple weeks. We were chatting last night about the state of the world and other such insightful topics. He reminded me that in Australia you have to vote, or you're fined. I kind of admire that - because I think it's a shame when people don't vote. Voting is kind of like a jury summons - it's a part of your responsibilities as a citizen of this country.

However, I am glad that we don't force people to vote in the U.S. because half the country is just too ignorant. Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD.

I don't have a problem with people having different moral values than I do, I'm certainly no authority on the subject. But when people are just too ignorant (or, as I usually say, "stupid") that they do not have basic facts straight, I damn well don't want them voting.

Granted, it's not entirely their fault. The reason folks believe Iraq had WMD isn't just accidental, because the number is up from 36% a year earlier. The executive branch is deliberately leaking misleading information and skewing their answers to straight forward questions.

As John Steward said (to people on Crossfire, but I think it applies to Bush and co. as well), "Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.".

Friday, August 04, 2006

Busiest Weekend Ever

August 12&13 2006

What's going on that weekend?
  1. Sam's pig roast
  2. Mary's brother is in town (from Australia)
  3. Mary's mom's family reunion
  4. national conference for naturopathic medicine
  5. Mary's 20 year high school class reunion
  6. our birthing class reunion
  7. Cornell's alum summer picnic
  8. neighbor's open house
And those are just the things I can think of off the top of my head.

We won't be doing all of that.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

There's no UNDO button

That should be life's first lesson from now on.

I'm very accustomed to being able to undo things at work - computers are good like that.

However, when I'm placating Simone and get her to a happy place, I sometimes change - switch arms, put her over a shoulder, stop/start walking, whatever. And that sets her off again. I try to quickly "undo" what I just did, but she doesn't have an "undo" button.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mid-Rank Nerd

I am nerdier than 71% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!